Smita Vadakekalam speaking at 17NTC.

New this year at NTC: Tactical sessions!

Every year, we look for opportunities to improve the educational content at the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC), based on participant feedback, presenter feedback, and experiences gleaned from our other in-person events.

In 2017, we heard from NTC attendees and presenters that some topics don’t need to be long sessions. That year, we used our Tech Roundup events (local, two-day conferences held in 2017) to experiments with a 30-minute session format. Those shorter sessions were designed to be deep dives into practical, immediately actionable tips and tricks: Think “15 tips for creating graphics for social media.” The positive feedback from participants and presenters proved the concept.

And now we’re bringing the 30-minute format to 19NTC. The short format of these tactical sessions will keep the sessions lively and provide significant practical takeaways. We’re excited to see what the community comes up with during the proposal stage.

What makes tactical sessions different

30-minute format

Unlike the regular educational sessions, tactical sessions are only 30 minutes (not 75 mins). This means the focus on practical takeaways needs to be extremely tight to ensure attendees still get the tips and tools they need to better accomplish their missions.

Presented twice

To make sure that tactical session presenters get equal time to share their expertise with the community as the regular session presenters, each session selected will be run twice. They will run back-to-back (with a 15-minute transition time between) in the same breakout time slot with no need to change rooms.

This also addresses the challenge attendees face of “too much good content.” Can’t decide which awesome tactical session to attend? Not a problem. You’ll get a second chance to select from the agenda without a time machine or a clone maker.

Solo presenter

At NTEN, we put a lot of work into ensuring sessions represent a wide range of voices and perspectives. We also understand the delicate balance that comes between that and making sure those voices don’t get diluted by a lack of time to share their expertise.

For this reason, we are allowing—actually, encouraging—the 30-minute tactical sessions to have just one presenter (or two at most). Too many presenters will dilute the tight format.

Fast, fun, and full of content

The spirit of these sessions should be lively and fast-paced—and still deliver on the promise of making attendees better at their work. Their place on the schedule right after lunch on the second day means you’ll need to keep it moving to keep everyone attentive.

Think of it as speed-dating for your conference brain, but on sessions that you pre-selected by voting. Already, so much better than dating!

And unlike our other educational content, tactical sessions don’t need to be tool agnostic. In fact, referring folks to great tools is encouraged. Just keep in mind that the broader the topic, the most interest you’ll have from the community. Make sure to keep it practical and useful, not “sales-y.” Remember you’re not trying to sell anything—you’re sharing your best tips and tools with the community.

Next steps

So what are you waiting for? What are your must-have resources, tools, and tips you want to share with the community? Head on over to your NTC Proposal Dashboard to share, review, and evolve your ideas before the August 17th deadline and the beginning of voting.

Ash Shepherd
Education Director
Ash has been in love with the nonprofit sector for nearly two decades, where he has worked in the areas of conservation, environmental education, social work, youth program development, and technology consulting. He has been an active member of the NTEN Community, serving as a co-organizer of Portland’s 501 Tech Club, and completing a three-year term on the NTEN: Change Journal's Editorial Committee. Ash earned a B.S. from the University of Montana in Resource Management and a Masters in Environment and Development from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa.